Spring has finally arrived--and that means road tripping to Virginia wine country for lazy afternoon lounging on a tasting room patio or picnicking blanket-side with a just-uncorked bottle and some cheese and charcuterie. But why stop there? Let that irresistible hospitable feeling linger longer with an overnight stay.
While you may find country inns and bed and breakfasts as numerous as viognier and cabernet franc grapes growing on area vines, it’s less common to have the chance to rent out your own cozy, well-appointed winery cottage. But you can do just that at Madison’s Early Mountain Vineyards.
I was invited to stay for the evening in the property’s cottage; nestled next to the winery’s front block of vineyards and near its hilltop barn, it also happens to be the place where owners Jean and Steve Case sojourn when visiting. Its 1,400-square feet house a bedroom fitted with a king-sized bed, living room with fold-out queen couch, dining room and kitchenette, all done in soothing neutral and butter yellow tones. It also boasts a front porch and back patio; all in all, it’s plenty of room for two couples or a family of four.
EMV used to reserve the cottage exclusively for VIP guests and brides and grooms holding weddings there, but now you can book your own bucolic experience through Airbnb or GlampingHub. The nightly rate is $220 on Monday through Thursday evenings, and $330 on weekends, and no minimum stay is required. Keep in mind, though, that the cottage often books up eighteen months in advance during high wedding season (May, June, September and October). But it can be lovely any time of the year, and it’s available lots of weekday and weekends during non-peak times; it is recommended to reserve ninety days in advance for weekends, or a month in advance for weekdays.
After I arrived and settled in, I opened up a lovely bottle of rosé that staff thoughtfully left on ice in the kitchenette, along with some n/a beverages and snacks (the cottage is also stocked with coffee and ingredients to enjoy a light breakfast the following day). We headed out to the back patio, which has a table and chairs and that hammock that just beckons you for an afternoon snooze. Later on, we grabbed a blanket and hiked the short distance over to the winery, which was featuring one of its summer movies under the stars that evening, during which you could purchase food and bottles or glasses of wine.
There are lots of things to do, both onsite and in the surrounding area. The winery is open every day except Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Fridays, when they are open until 8 p.m. EMV’s tasting room is one of the most inviting I’ve ever been to, in Virginia or elsewhere. Their large tasting bar is joined by plush sofas, a fireplace, board games, neutral colors, lots of brick, wood and slate lots of windows--it’s really easy to settle in with a glass of wine, and really difficult to leave. A choice of wine tasting flights cost $10 each, including five two-ounce pours of each varietal and a stemless logo tasting glass. The terrace offers another fireplace as well as views of the vines and the barns; it’s a gorgeous spot to relax over lunch or with some late afternoon savory and sweet snacks. You can also visit the market and take some goodies to go to, either for your cottage patio or to nibble and sip by the terrace’s adjacent flower garden or vineyards. EMV also periodically features live music, festivals and other special events; a Father’s Field Day on June 18 will offer new wine releases, ice cream sandwiches for dessert from local bakeshop and creamery Wonderment and music from Bluegrass band Gallatin Canyon.
Minutes away, you can do everything from trout fishing to horseback riding and hiking at Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Driver, and oenophiles will be happy to know that Barboursville Vineyards and Horton Vineyards are nearby as well. And history buffs can stroll the many historic homes and Civil War trails in Madison, not to mention James Madison’s home Montpelier.
Director of marketing Rachel Caggiano hopes that guests of the cottage will find the serene escape they’re looking for. “Whether a romantic getaway, a quiet writer’s retreat or a fun weekend in the country with friends, we know the gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge foothills are good for the soul,” She says. “Especially when coupled with sunset views while sipping on delicious Virginia wine.” Cheers to that.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.